Finding the right therapist is a tough task. A mental health worker should be someone you trust who can grasp your problems and relate to you personally.
If you are LGBTQIA+, this might mean looking for an LGBTQIA+-affirming therapist. An LGBTQIA+-affirming mental health worker is someone who is LGBTQIA+ or is an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community.
Some mental health workers even focus on LGBTQIA+ issues. A therapist that is well-versed in these issues can validate what you’ve been through as a person who is LGBTQIA+. This can lead to a more productive therapist-client union.
Mental Health Issues In The LGBTQIA+ Community
People who are LGBTQ+ deal with major stressors. They may have dealt with bias, bigotry, and having family or friends turn them away. Because of this, people who are LGBTQ+ are more likely to face mental distress and illness.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) regularly surveys the mental health issues of Americans. SAMHSA has found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults are more than twice as likely to have a mental health issue. That’s compared to their straight peers.
Gender identity can also lead to poor mental health. For example, a study from 2019 found that almost 60% of people who are transgender had at least one psychiatric diagnosis.
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How To Find LGBTQIA+-Affirming Therapists
The National Alliance on Mental Illness outlines steps you can take when trying to find an LGBTQIA+-affirming therapist.
- Think about what you are looking for in a mental health worker. Is it crucial that they are LGBTQIA+? You’re more likely to find the right person by stating your needs upfront.
- Are you a transgender person seeking support for gender-affirming medical care? A mental health worker who knows legal and insurance rules may be vital to getting care.
- Gather referrals. Check for filters to find LGBTQIA+-affirming therapists on health care worker lists and your health insurance’s website. Local LGBTQIA+ groups can also help. Find yours.
- Make the call. Picking up the phone may feel hard, and asking the right questions before making an appointment can save you time. If you feel wary about making the first call, have a trusted friend or family member do it for you.
- Ask questions. Be open about what you are looking for during your first time talking to the therapist. Ask about their work with LGBTQ+ clients and local LGBTQ+ groups.
- Be patient. It may take some time to find the right match.
Tips for making therapy affordable
Sometimes, the out-of-pocket cost of therapy might stop you from getting care.
When meeting potential therapists, discussing the cost first is a good idea. Some mental health workers will find a rate that will work for you or offer payment plans.
Some other tips on finding therapy you can afford:
- Talk with your work. Companies may offer free therapy or counseling outside of your health insurance.
- Ask community members. Local health centers may be able to connect you with treatment options you can afford.
- Call many therapists. If one mental health worker doesn’t offer reduced rates or payment plans, that doesn’t mean others won’t.
- Online therapy. In some cases, telehealth is a great option for those having trouble finding an LGBTQ+-friendly mental health worker near them. Online mental health services may offer a flat fee for those paying out of pocket.
Start Your Search For LGBTQIA+-Affirming Therapists
If you are having trouble with your search, LGBTQIA+ groups focused on mental health and counseling can help:
- Pride Counseling is an online therapy resource that matches you with licensed mental health workers who are experts on LGBTQIA+ issues.
- Violet is a group offering inclusive healthcare, including mental health care, for people who are LGBTQIA+.
- National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network matches you with mental health workers who are LGBTQIA+ people of color.
Other Mental Health Resources
Don’t wait for therapy if you think you may harm yourself or another person. Go to the emergency room, or call a crisis hotline:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255, or text 988
- The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender National Hotline: 888-843-4564
- The Trevor Project: 866-488-7386, or text “START” to 678-678
- Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
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